ONCOLOGY Vol 15 No 12

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Role of Adjuvant Therapy in Resected Stage II/IIIA Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer

December 1st 2001

The role of adjuvant therapy following complete resection of node-positive (stage II/IIIA) non-small-cell lung cancer remains controversial. Five-year survival rates in pathologic stage II disease range from 30% to 50% and in resected stage IIIA disease from 10% to 30%. The majority of recurrences following surgery are distant metastases. This two-part review, which will conclude in the January 2002 issue, analyzes the role of adjuvant therapy in this setting, using an evidence-based approach and focusing primarily on randomized trials and meta-analyses. The key variables in evaluating these studies are elucidated, ranging from the extent of mediastinal, systemic, and "molecular" staging to the quality of the adjuvant treatments administered. Some of the potential flaws inherent in meta-analyses are reviewed. To date, there is no convincing evidence that any therapy consistently improves survival in the adjuvant setting. Postoperative radiotherapy has been associated with a significant improvement in local control, particularly in patients with pathologic N2 disease. Chemotherapy should be offered to patients in appropriate clinical trials, and active phase III trials are reviewed. Future strategies include novel chemotherapy, methods to reduce toxicity, the emerging role of neoadjuvant therapy, and the promise of new biologic agents. [ONCOLOGY 15:1549-1558, 2001]